As a precaution in response to COVID-19, please now dispose of all tissues, napkins, paper towels and feminine hygiene products in the garbage. Diapers can continue to go in the Green Bin. Ask the Waste Wizard to find out where and how to properly dispose of an item.

 

Almost 50 per cent of household waste (by weight) is organic material. The City’s Green Bin program helps keep waste out of landfill by collecting and processing organics into material that can be used to create nutrient-rich compost used to feed and nourish soil. The City collects organics from approximately 460,000 houses, as well as apartment and condo buildings, schools and City-owned buildings.

 

The City has installed Green Bins for organic waste in all Dog Off-Leash Areas in parks across the city. In parks that do not have a Green Bin, residents are encouraged to dispose of dog poop and other organic waste in garbage bins or take it home and place it in the Green Bin.

  • Line your kitchen catcher (indoor organics container) or Green Bin (not both) with any plastic bag (e.g. grocery, milk, produce). Compostable plastic bags are not necessary.
  • Twist or loosely tie the plastic bag (no twist ties)
  • Take food items out of their plastic bags/wrap and remove produce stickers, as too much plastic results in lower quality compost (check your collection calendar or Waste Wizard to see if packaging can go in the Blue Bin recycling)
  • To prevent odours, wash kitchen catchers and Green Bins frequently (both can be cleaned with dish soap)
  • Consider storing organic waste in your freezer or fridge to reduce odours and flies, particularly in the summer months
  • Kitchen catchers are available at select retailers and Community Environment Day events
  • For new, additional or replacement Green Bins for houses, contact 311

 

various items permitted in the green bin, such as food and coffee grounds

All Food Waste

  • Vegetable scraps and peels, corn cobs and husks
  • Fruit cores, pits, peels
  • Meat, poultry, fish, shellfish (including bones)
  • Pasta, bread, grains, cereals, rice, flour
  • Dairy products, eggs (including shells)
  • Nuts, nutshells
  • Baked goods, desserts

Other

  • Coffee grounds, filters, tea bags
  • Soiled, non-coated/unlined paper plates and bags (e.g. from flour and sugar)
  • House plants, including soil
  • Pet waste, bedding, cat litter
  • Diapers
Items not accepted in the green bin

Recycling

  • Plastic bags (soft and stretchy)
  • Plastic food containers and cutlery (black and compostable plastic is garbage)
  • Aluminum pie plates, trays, roasting pans
  • Foam polystyrene meat/fish trays (absorbent pads are garbage)

Garbage

  • Paper napkins, paper towels, tissues (moved from Green Bin to garbage as a precaution in response to COVID-19)
  • Feminine hygiene products (moved from Green Bin to garbage as a precaution in response to COVID-19)
  • Plastic bags (rigid and crinkly)
  • Plastic-lined paper packaging (e.g. single-serve oatmeal packs, some outer tea bags)
  • Stand-up pouches
  • Compostable plastic packaging and cutlery
  • Plastic food wrap (stretchy)
  • Meat/fish tray absorbent pads
  • Hot and cold drink cups
  • Aluminum foil wrap
  • Chopsticks, popsicle sticks, toothpicks
  • Cotton balls, cotton tipped swabs, make-up pads, dental floss, baby wipes, dryer sheets
  • Hair, pet fur, feathers, nail clippings
  • Gum, wax, wine corks, vacuum bags/contents
  • Cigarette butts, fireplace and BBQ ashes

The City does not accept the following items marketed or labelled as compostable or biodegradable in its Green Bin organics program:

  • non-fibre containers/packaging
  • coffee pods
  • coffee cups
  • cutlery

These items, which may be made of or lined with a bio-based plastic, must be disposed of in the garbage. Alternatively, products can be returned to retailers/manufacturers that offer take-back programs.

The City commissioned research related to disposal of single-serve coffee and tea pods. The findings include feedback from Toronto residents about use, attitudes and disposal behaviours.

Why the City doesn’t accept these items in the Green Bin

What goes in the Green Bin is very important as the organic material is used to create high-quality compost that can be used to feed and nourish soil. The Green Bin program was designed primarily to handle food waste as well as some fibre/paper products (e.g. paper napkins). It was not designed to process packaging.

Instead of traditional composting, the City uses anaerobic digestion technology to process Green Bin waste. Before organic material goes into the anaerobic digesters, it goes through a pre-processing phase to remove any contamination. In this phase, anything that behaves like a plastic, regardless of what it is made of, is removed and sent to landfill. Bio-based plastics, such as compostable plastic bags and cutlery, behave like plastic and as such are removed during the pre-processing phase and sent to landfill.

Why the City uses anaerobic digestion to process organics

There are many benefits to using anaerobic digestion to process organics. The City chose anaerobic digestion because it:

  • produces nutrient-rich digester solids that can be turned into high-quality compost
  • reduces the greenhouse gas emissions of organic waste processing by allowing the biogas generated to be captured and burned off so that methane doesn’t escape into the atmosphere
  • provides an opportunity to create green energy by upgrading biogas into renewable natural gas
  • makes participation in the Green Bin program easier by allowing residents to put organics in regular plastic bags that can be removed in the pre-processing stage versus having to buy and use compostable bags
  • minimizes odours allowing the City to process organics within city limits in a controlled facility

Learn more about what happens to organics once they are picked up at the curb.

To process Green Bin organic waste, the City uses anaerobic digestion, which generates a by-product called biogas. The City is working with Enbridge Gas Inc. to install equipment at the Dufferin Solid Waste Management Facility that will allow it to turn the biogas produced into renewable natural gas (RNG).